tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN July 14, 2014 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT
many more who don't, who think that would be something that doing at all becauseould it would go nowhere and they think that it could also bounceb back, hurt them politically.so m so some people see this lawsuit as a way to sort of contain that fire for impeachment that could actually, you know, maybe backfire and hurt republicans rc ahead of the midterm elections.t there's also a lot of general ag anger at the president among the republican party, republicans in the house in particular, and ia this is a way of sort of answer answering thatin anger with wha kind of an action.t has >> another topic that has been in the news and on the minds of congress this idea that nding emergency supplementary fundingo to address thepl border crisis.. people on both sides of the aisle talking about that s the >> that's the other huge story of july that we'll be covering. the question is whether congress can get that supplemental to the president's desk before they all leave town for the august recess. tcess. i think there is a lot of
motivation for both sighs to get something done before they ave,t leave. but there's a really significant difference between democrats anb republicans over how that package should look.packag and the big thing is whether you're going to change the law so that it's harder for people who are coming in to the country from central american countriest too get these automatic files. there's a lot changed in 2008 that's really leading to a lot of people crossing the board right now. and democrats and republicans disagree on how o much you shoua change thaw t lawto to try to mp prevent more people from trying to come in to the united states. >> and what about the highway trust fund deal? a lot of outrage certainly from governors at the national the governor's association meeting who are veryn worried that ied congress won't reach a deal.dea. do you see one in sight? >> question. in fact, at the end of last week it looked like the house and ikh senate were becoming really, really close on a deal that wile provide some $10 billion to stop a shortfall in the highway trust
fund. it's possible that they'll be p' tle toll b move on legislation soon as this week to get that done. all the things we're talking about, i think that's the vehicle that seems the most likely to get done right now before the august recess. >> one last question for you, s ian swanson. we have heard that senate that democrats are moving forward to come up with some kind of ion to legislation to address the supreme court's recent ruling oo what's been known as the hobby a lobby secase. what can you tell us about that? >> senate democrats are expecter to move forward with legislation this week. it's going to get a vote. lt thisth is a little bit like the lawsuit, though, that we were talking about earlier agan against president obama, in that it's something that's likely to get a vote in the senate but not pass the senate.pass because, republicans in the senate are going to prevent them from getting the 60 votes necessary to proceed.proceed. so, i guess i could say it's a a little different from a lawsuit the lawsuit at least is likely to get through theat house but o tht through the senate. this is something on the hobby h lobby case that they'll be able to have a vote on in the senate that will motivate the
democratic base but not get through the house. >> ian swanson is the news editor at the hill. >> thanks for having me. >> live now to capitol hill where the house rules committee is meeting to consider debate rules for the highway and transportation funding bill the measure expected to come up later this week on the house floor. money will run out for the program at the end of august. the meeting should get started shortly. the chairman of the rules committee, republican pete sessions of texas in the middle of your screen.
rules committee will come to order. thank you very much for joining us today for a very important meeting of the rules committee, where we're going to meet to consider hr-5021 the highway and transportation funding act of 2014. current estimates indicate the highway trust fund will run dry sometime this month. allowing this to happen would dramatically impact our nation's federal highways program, severely limit our ability to
fund construction projects necessary to ensuring that america and our economy can continue to remain competitive, and, of course, we need to worry about getting the job done for america's economic and commerce marketplace to make sure that we stay up with their vibrancy to have a good infrastructure. the legislation before us today provides the resources necessary to keep the trust fund solvent. through may 31st 2015. and while i'm sure that everyone here would like to see more permanent solution, including the young chairman of the transportation committee mr. schuster, this proposal, however, avoids a problem where we don't reach a deal in to avert -- end of the year crisis. so what we believe we're going to have today is a more comprehensive solution and i want to thank dave camp who is
chairman of the ways and means committee for being here today and for chairman schuster who have done a lot of work on this effort. i know that we are joined today by other members of the democrat party, including our delegate eleanor norton holmes from washington, d.c., who is the ranking member of the committee on highways and transit. and also government reform and also earl blumenauer, who i see every morning as he has ridden his bike in to the united states capitol knowing that he still needs safe roads and bridges to accomplish that, who's a member of the budget committee, also. so i want to thank each of you for being here today, and i have three quick announcements. first of all, we have intern program, team sessions. we have two important college interns, both graduates, first
of southern methodist university savannah stevens. savannah, thank you for being here. and jillian quigley, a graduate of amherst, i want to thank them both for taking time to come to the rules committee. and lastly my baby son nicolas who is joining us first time to see his dad do the rules committee chairmanship, so i told him, don't yawn on tv, and get off that darn blackberry, or i-thing. he reminded me it's an i-5 dad, and i said okay. want to thank everybody for being here. i'd like to yield to the gentleman from massachusetts for any opening statement. >> welcome everybody here. and i will forego an opening statement and get right to the testimony. >> i thank the gentleman. i think that's a strong and clear message that what we want to do is get our work done today. with that said i would defer first to the gentleman from michigan, the chairman of the ways and means is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. at the end of this month states across the country will be
forced to put construction projects on hold if congress cannot address the highway trust fund. at risk are hundreds of thousands of jobs in the construction industry at a time when millions of americans are packing their bags to take a vacation or just traveling to work. we must ensure that the roads, bridges and highways they travel on are modernized and safe. the bill before us would provide enough funding to get us through may 31 -- 2015. this legislation is the only package with all provisions having a proven history of getting big bipartisan votes in both the house and the senate. and last week passed through the ways and means committee by a bipartisan voice vote. both pension smoothing and custom users fees are included in the senate finance committee bill and those have been voted on and approved by the senate already this year. the leaking underground storage tanks transfer is identical in the house and senate bills. over the past few weeks, we've been working with our counterparts on the senate finance committee to address this matter in a bipartisan,
bicameral way, it's important to note that the senate proposal now also reflects the need for a ten-month fix. while there is also bipartisan bicameral agreement that we need a long-term solution to the highway trust fund, it is my hope that ten months gets congress enough time to act. some of our -- that we need to go shorter to go longer. that is the bill should only get us through december 31 of this year. i think that's a mistake. as i noted the finance committee agrees. these are policies everyone is familiar with. they're policies that will provide the funding we need and they're the only policies that will pass both the house and the senate in time to fund our highways after the end of this month. i would urge everyone to keep an eye on that goal, finding an immediate fix to keep transportation projects going in the bill before us does just that. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate not only your feedback but your hard work on this effort, and to keep us as we've spoken about earlier, right on target getting work done as quickly as possible. like to next welcome the
gentleman from pennsylvania, the young chairman of the transportation committee. i know mr. chairman you've been hard at work for a long time but you also come with a view of having a father who has walked down this pathway with you, and i knew your dad. know your dad, bill, and i want you to know that i intend to tell him how proud we are of the job you're continuing to do for the people of this great nation, caring about their roads and bridges wherever they might be across the united states. the gentleman is recognized at this time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate those kind words, and i'll pass them along to bud. >> i intend to tell him myself. >> i appreciate that. it's probably better he'll tell me something i didn't do right in this bill probably. but that's okay. want to thank mr. chairman and the members of the committee. we have the opportunity to appear here today for hr-5021 the highway transportation
funding act of 2014. the highway transportation funding act of 2014 extends federal service transportation programs and shares the solvency of the highway trust fund through may as chairman camp pointed out. hr-5021 is a clean extension of the surface transportation programs and continues map 21 reforms. we have an immediate and critical need to address the solvency of the trust fund and extend the current surface transportation law. this bill does that in a responsible way and with policies that previously received strong bipartisan and bicameral support. if congress fails to act as the chairman once again mentioned, there will be thousands of projects across this country, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be in jeopardy if we don't do this. the legislation provides that much needed certainty and stability of the states. this bill in no way precludes congress from continuing to work on a long-term funding solution and reauthorization bill which remains a top priority. however this legislation is a
responsible solution at this time and assures that we don't play politics with these programs. enables us to continue to making improvements to our system. i appreciate chairman camp's attention to this pressing issue as well as his commitment to addressing the highway trust fund. due to the urgency of this legislation i request the committee on rules grant a closed rule that waives any necessary points of order against consideration of the bill. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. delighted that you're here and obviously as with all four of you, anything that you have in writing whether be entered for the record without ox and i thank you very much for your solid and quick statement. ms. holmes norton, welcome to the rules committee. i'm delighted you're here. i'm sure as you and mr. blumenauer know your presence at this committee is not only appreciated and respected but we count on you to come forth with your ideas. you remember not only an important part of this country,
the district of columbia but you also represent your party the democratic party and your ideas and we're delighted that you're here. we'll tell you this committee is intensely interested in the issue that hand and your ideas will work. >> thank you very much. very much appreciate the opportunity to say a few words, and i summarize my remarks and simply introduce them for the record. i'm very pleased to be before your committee this time with a truly bipartisan bill and i want to thank the chairman to my right for working to the to make sure that this bill the committee who works on this bill works in truly bipartisan fashion, and very much appreciate the way this was done in our own committee with mr. shuster and also mr. camp's committee. i am the ranking member of the surface transportation bill.
mr. rayhall who is the ranking member of the full committee wouldn't be here and i'm placed to be here in his place and i am overjoyed that this bill is coming forward and i want to thank you for bringing this bill forward. not at the last minute but providing some certainty, especially now that you cannot do a long-term bill because the congress isn't quite ready for that yet. rationing has already started and you can imagine that the states and localities when rationing which means that they're already not getting the full amounts because nobody knew what would happen in the congress, that this bill is very, very welcome. obviously, not only on mr. chairman, but all of us who are sitting at this table would have preferred a long-term bill with the certainty every single district, there's no member that is not affected by this bill. and i don't think that there are many bills that come before you that have the effect that this bill would have, the short-term extension does not allow them to
big into the backlog, and that would not because it only enables them to keep going but it at least enables them to keep going and looking bankruptcy in the face for the highway trust fund was so unacceptable that everyone has gotten together and done the right thing. i would just like to say a word the chairman had both asked for a closed bill. i'd like to reinforce that. look, on a sort-term, we authorization of this kind truly we can get a closed bill. if the chairman had asked for it, i noticed that there are two amendments that have been found and i just want to indicate to you, mr. chairman, that that would be unfair to the entire house. because, the notice was given -- there was no notice given that this bill was open for amendments. there's one bill that's technical, and the other is -- actually have findings. if beam had noticed that they could have come forwards with amendments we would have had others to do so. since there was no indication
that amendments would be considered i ask you to do as the chairman has asked and to approve the bill that they have requested. mr. chairman, this is not a bill we would have wanted. but it's the kind of bill that brings the house together on both sides. and i am deeply grateful for you for that. and for the chairmen who are with me and the ranking member, as well. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you very much for your not only support of the bill, but speaking and attributes that we all understand. and that is the importance of bringing this bill right now on time to the floor where we can get this done and work to the. mr. blumenauer welcome, we're delighted that you're here. a couple of members showed up as soon as we heard your name mentioned. so you're very popular here at the rules committee. >> and i appreciate your courtesy.
i agree with the statement that you opened the hearing with. about how important it is, your preference for permanent solution. and avert a year-end crisis. i'm going to offer a slightly different perspective on that. taking slight exception with my friends who i respect. and this is an area that i personally have been deeply involved with since i reluctantly left the transportation infrastructure where i had the honor and privilege of serving both with bill shuster and his father bud when he was chair. i made the transition to ways and means and volunteered to be on budget because i'm deeply concerned about infrastructure and finance. and the fact that we are in trouble. my concern with what's being offered today and the way we in the ways and means committee all the democrats supported an amendment i had which was as the
chairman mentioned a moment ago, is to bring about long-term support by shortening the duration. because i'm afraid what you are considering, and what the committee ill-advisedly advanced is going to make the chaos, the uncertainty, it's going to make it permanent, not just this congress and next congress, but as one of the stakeholders said walking out of our hearing last week, may 2015 might as well be may 2017. because, there's no pressure to finish the job. it's not going to be easier in may. it's going to be harder. we've known about this for months. that's why every member of the democrats on the house ways and means committee asked for a hearing at the beginning of the year on transportation and finance. i've been making poor chairman camp's life miserable kind of
bothering him about this for months. in 79 days, this bill expires. and we've all known that. and we've known that there was not enough money to get through even september 30th for months. and now we're walking in with a maybe a week or two, and as mr. norton pointed out, there have already been a summer slowdown. states are pulling back because of uncertainty because of what's going on. there's been no resolution of this fund in question which is exactly the same as we had in 2003. it was -- it's been tying us in knots since our last six-year reauthorization which i was pleased to play a small part as a committee member with chairman bud schuster, and ranking member where we went toe to toe with speaker gingrich you may recall and the clinton administration
and were able to extract the 4.3 cent gas tax increase which was the last gas tax increase, but it was for deficit reduction. and we were able to transfer that to the highway trust fund and get a fully funded six-year bill. and since then, we've been walking around in circles. the stake holders are united and unanimous that america's falling apart, and it's falling behind, and we need to stop abaiting our responsibilities to fess up. now there are different approaches. you may hear from one of my colleagues, who's interested in devolution. there's a republican bill that would cut the transportation funding down to i think 3.7 cents, and turn this back as an unfunded mandate to the states and let them do what they will. the republican budget is kind of a status quo slow decline.
if enacted it would have no new transportation projects until october 1st, 2015. and there would be a ten-year reduction of 30% of highway. and that's maybe what some people want. but that ought to be debated openly and honestly. others have ideas for raising revenue. i think we would be well served to be able to resolve this so that the transportation committee can come forward with a six-year bill. that they know what they got. is it 3.7 cents? is it the slow decline, the 30% reduction? is it maybe running with more revenue? but unless and until we answer that question, i don't know how the difficult job that the chairman of the tni committee has and the ranking member and the subcommittee how they're ever going to be able to do their job if they don't have the
details. now, kicking this can down the road to may 31st is kind of interesting. because the funding issue does not get less complex. it doesn't get cheaper. and the politics don't get any easier. i don't know which party is going to control the senate next time but it's going to be an evenly, narrowly divided senate. and half the senate will be running for president, if they haven't already. and to think that in the other body, that they're magically in a couple of months going to be able to solve the funding conundrum and be able to work to give the committees of jurisdiction -- and my heart goes out, i still feel like i'm a member of the alumni association. i follow the committee. i respect the work. i respect what's going on with
ranking member bitter and barbara boxer but this is not going to get easier next year. what is very likely going to mean is that we will continue the pattern. we, since 2003, we have had 21 short-term extensions. and not one six-year bill. mr. chairman, i respectfully request that we think about, that you consider allowing me to offer my amendment which would shorten the phase of the money until the end of the year. and that we actually roll up our sleeves and get to work. that we have hearings on ways and means about what the funding conundrum is and decide one way or not. that we not break for summer recess with this unresolved. i'm going to be talking about this from portland, maine to portland, oregon.
i'm happy to stop by in washington, d.c. in august. i don't think we should break for reelections and leave communities with uncertainty that's going to last for years. and it's within our power to do this. i have great respect for our chairman and our friend mr. shuster, and the chairman of the tni committee, the partnership that i serve with a number of our democratic colleagues on the committee. there is a vast array of people from the u.s. chamber of commerce to the afl-cio, local governments, governors, contractors, who are in accord. and by the way, they don't support kicking this into the next congress. the chamber of commerce, for example, had a statement before we voted saying they don't support sliding it on, they want an address now.
i agree with the chamber of commerce and the afl-cio and a wide range of other stake holders we need to get down to business now, we should not adjourn this congress without having resolved this long-term funding, and giving people the certainty of the federal partnership, or if some had their way, maybe there is no federal partnership. and if that's going to be the case they ought to find out sooner rather than later. mr. chairman i deeply appreciate your courtesy in permitting me to appear. i have some additional views that i would like to submit on behalf of ranking member levin and myself. >> without objection we'll include that. >> thank you very much. >> mr. blumenauer thank you very much for your words. i would say to all four of you who are here, thank you not only for taking your time to be here today, i do recognize that there are people who offer a different viewpoint. i will tell you i agree with the mark that the committee has given us here.
i want to agree with not only mr. camp for his hard work, ms. norton holmes, because -- and mr. shuster, because i believe that what needs to happen is we need to get what we can get done when we can do it. it may or may not be easier for us to do it now or later. but we can achieve it here today. and i believe that it's important for washington, d.c. to have certainty as to what we're going to do. and it's great back home in dallas, texas. so i'm glad that we're doing this. i thank all four of you, except my expression of thanks and i defer. >> thank you mr. chairman, i appreciate it. i'd like to take a very brief point of personal privilege and introduce a guest i have this evening.
i have a teacher in congress, this is my ninth year of doing it, bring one or two teachers from my district for about ten days to washington to shadow me, and learn more about how we do our business, and give that person an opportunity to do some individual research and my 2014 teacher in congress is here tonight. michael mccullough back there. he's a reacher at r.j. reynolds high school in win stan sigh lem and today is his first day here in the capitol. and i invited him to come over to see the rules committee in action. keep that in mind, guys. he's going to go back and talk with impressionable minds about what goes on in congress. thank you mr. chairman for allowing me -- >> yield for just one comment. michael you better put on your track shoes. she's tough to keep up with.
>> and i don't have any questions either, and i thank our colleagues for being here this afternoon. to make the presentation, and i know this is -- these are very important issues, so thank you all very much. >> ms. slaughter? >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to say welcome to our guests. we're happy to have you. this is known as the committee where legislation goes to die. so it's not a bad place for it to start because you won't see much while you're here. anyway, i would rather do what we're doing today, gentlemen. both of you know i've got great affection for you and the good work that you do. i haven't heard from anybody in my state without giving a few months to plant something in a state where they're just doing a survey on bridges. almost all of them are nearly dysfunctional, it's going to help. i think mr. blumenauer is exactly right. i remember the days when the most bipartisan bill in the
house of representatives was transportation. and it really is, i think the fact that we can't seem to muster getting a transportation bill for us speaks very poorly of us. but as i said, i'm not -- this is not even half a loaf, this is a camera and a page, and i guess that an important. i'm having a lot of platitudes today. but there you are. i'm not happy with this bill. and i doubt any of the four of you are, either. but thank you very much. >> the gentlewoman yields back here time. thank you very much. mr. bishop? >> thank you, first of all mr. mccullough, i was a high school teacher before i came to congress. we're 0 for 2. this is sad, sorry. thank you for what you're trying to do here. i appreciate what you've done here. one of the other things that i found was extrooply helpful when i was in state legislature is we
had an ending date and the ending date forced us to make decisions which were never great decisions but we had to because in that search for the perfect solution, it ain't out there. but thank you for what you've done. i appreciate your efforts. yield back. >> mr. mcgovern. >> the chair -- policy on the bill. >> without objection. by the way, does he know what it says? >> yeah, it -- you want me to read it to you? >> well, no i just ask -- >> he's okay with it i think. so we're okay. >> it's all right. >> it's kind of hard to -- >> yeah, but he would prefer a long-term fix to this bill. i always want to associate myself with miss slaughter. you know, this -- this is kicking the can down the road and i'm not sure a deadline creates any more pressure. it just means we might do another short-term, another short-term, another short-term. i was on the transportation committee, mr. shuster, when your father was the chairman. i was there with mr. blumenauer, and i was really proud to
support a truly bipartisan transportation bill. and part of the problem you guys are going to have is the people that make up your conference. some of who have signed pledges to vote no new revenues. who just hate government in every form that exists. and don't understand that in order to fix our roads and our bridges and our aging infrastructure, you're going to have to find a funding mechanism. this is just a suggestion. but if you guys are still in the majority, after november, i pray that you're not, but in case you are, i hope that you will -- you might want to revisit this issue of earmarking. because i think one of the reasons why we were able to pass a transportation bill when your dad was the chairman overwhelmingly, and overrode a presidential veto was because every member had some skin in the game. they actually were able to see where this funding would go in
their district and how it would make a difference. so i know that there's probably not fashionable to talk about at this particular point, but in thinking of ways to come to a long-term solution to get people to buy in, i mean that may be something we might want to revisit. but this should be a long-term bill. it's not. it is what it is. and we look forward to seeing it on the floor. i yield back my time. >> gentleman from oklahoma is recognized. >> just a couple of quick points because i agree very much with what my colleague had to say although for somewhat different political reasons. i think your position is correct, earmarking would be helpful here. i remember the days because i know my district better frankly than people at the transportation -- we could literally take care of an overpass or put an overpass in where five people had died and we could relieve, and the inability to do that. it just, i think is a sad consequence of -- of you know, politicizing the earmark process that both parties tended to do.
i do think thank the gentlemen for their good work. i know this has been a very difficult reach out. i know all of us would prefer a long-term solution. nobody more than the two of you. and i remain confident at the appropriate time, mr. shuster, you'll get us there. unfortunately we're leaving you on the wrong side of the river, mr. chairman, as we discussed before. i always reminding moses didn't make it to the promised land, either. and dave camp isn't going to make it to the next congress and we're going to be poorer for that frankly. but appreciate your good work. look forward to supporting it, and urge you, as you both continue forward to continue that search for the elusive permanent solution. i agree with my good friend, mr. blumenauer, we need to find one where we can plan over multiyear period, and put the -- put the transportation infrastructure of the country on sounder footing. with that i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. thank you very much. judge hastings, you're recognized. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and i thank our presenters,
especially. first mr. chairman would like to call for an open rule on a matter of this magnitude. and i certainly believe that the very least that we should make the amendments of our members, republican and democrat, who come to the committee, in order in this instance, and specifically our support of mr. blumenauer's amendment which i really do believe deserves our ample discussion, and i hope that the committee does not shut us out from having an opportunity to discuss such an important matter for the future. of this country. in essence what you've done is, and i think we all know this, you allow for six months of
spending to be paid for over a period of six years. over a period of ten years. and when all is said and done the pension's smoothing and i think i'm the first person to mention it's been identified that way. i don't think it's going to go smoothly at all if all of the pension funds find themselves in a position where we have to use the pension guarantee to fund them, then we could wind up losing money if this became our only solution. understanding that there's a year, 2015. but i think it amounts to not the committee. i think you all do what you can. i heard mr. camp loud and clear regarding it being bicameral. i appreciate that. i appreciate his efforts also on trying to assure that we do what's necessary on tax reform. but obviously, this particular
113th congress isn't about that business at this point. one thing i know is this. americans don't want their roads in disrepair. and i live here, in ms. holmes norton's area, and i can tell you, there are very few places that have as many needs when it comes to fixing just potholes alone, unless some of the roads i drive on in florida rival it on occasion. but people don't want their roads in disrepair. and they don't want their bridges falling down. and the 435-plus six of us ought to have the courage, and that's what it amounts to, to stand up and say what's needed. one of the things that's desperately needed, and i go on record now and have in my constituency, is a gas tax increase. and i believe that that is one way that we can address this
problem. and i call it just pure, unadulterated cowardice on behalf of all of us in congress for not being able to stand up. i yield back the balance. >> gentleman yields back his time. i appreciate the gentleman's recomments and respect his ideas. gentleman from georgia is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i happen to agree with mr. hastings. i think there's a better path forward. since we have chairman shuster here i'm not going to do any hand wringing about this temporary solution. i'm going to do hand wringing about that big five-year proposal you brought last time and i don't know why it's this time that folks don't have any courage and this time why kicking the can is down the road. it was last time when he brought a proposal with no earmarks. brought a proposal some folks thought spent too much and some folks thought spent too little. some folks thought it reformed too much and some folks thought it reformed too little. some folks thought it was too long and some thought it was too short. i don't know what path we're going to follow if we're not going to get together and pass
something like that, chairman camp has tremendous courage bringing forward a fundamental tax reform bill that he knew would be met with the perfect, being the enemy of the good, and you did that same thing on transportation and how quickly you forget when you took over at that committee you made every effort so we would never have to have a day like today, and you led, and the congress did not follow you. and that is on us. that is not on your committee and i'm grateful to you for your efforts in that way. i look forward to your having one more opportunity and i hope we're better followers next time around. that i yield back. >> thank you very much. mr. polis last week we celebrated the birth of your baby. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i was apprised of a warm reception the committee gave to little cora, and i hope to bring her by next week. so i very much look forward to that. it's my understanding we're meeting four times this week. so if one of those is a late night meeting you might, in fact
see me -- >> i'll see what i can do about it. gentleman is recognized. >> thank you. i thank the folks for the testimony, and in my opinion, we need to do a longer-term fix. i think that the gas tax, which is a reasonable funding mechanism for transportation is effectively a user fee, is a reasonable way of doing it. there's other approaches to user fees that i've heard about, and i think the issue with many of them is they might be very elegant economically but people worry about their impact on people's privacy. and those are very legitimate concerns, as well. and while the gas tax isn't a perfect proxy, it seems to be one that the american people can live with as opposed to other proposals that would have impacts on their privacy, knowing where their cars are going, and taxing their miles. i know my constituents would certainly react very negatively to that. so this is a very short-term
discussion here. as we go forward i would encourage everybody to look to the gas tax and see if we can find a way to more permanently ensure that we can have adequate investment in infrastructure and i'm happy to yield back. >> thank you very much. gentleman from louisville, texas, dr. burgess is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'll just take ownership as being part of the problem ten years ago. i bought a hybrid vehicle. i did that because i wanted the feeling of moral superiority that you have when you drive a hybrid. but the fact of the matter is, with 50 miles to a gallon i'm only contributing a half of what i used to contribute to building highways. now, i do think that some point we're going to have to address the flexibility that we give the states. and the fact that the state like texas, which desperately needs to be building infrastructure, there's a 20% diversion to rail. there's a 10% diversion to enhancements. maybe we need to look at those
numbers again. but we do need to give the states the flexibility that they need to be able to deal with the problems that are at hand. mr. cole referenced earmarks. i would just say that i think the states may be better arbitrators of what they need than us here at the federal level. but i do appreciate the work that everyone's put into this. i was part of the transportation committee that produced the last six-year bill. in spite of all the difficulty it did work okay. and we'll probably need to review that six-year bill again because of the certainty that people need when they're undertaking these very, very large projects that congress is not just funding from one month to the next. but i thank you for doing the work and for getting us this bill today, and look forward to supporting it on the floor. i yield back. >> thank you very much. chairman shuster i want to thank you. you've taken a lot of humorous jabs today.
and some serious jabs. but, i believe that every single member, as you alluded to earlier, as well as ms. eleanor holmes norton stated that it's in all of our best interests to get this work done. it's in all of our best interests to come to some agreement. as a texan, as a member of the donor state there are a lot of things we may or may not like about this. but i would remind us that we are americans, and that we try and work together and solve our problems through not only rule of law, but this opportunity to work together with members of congress from all across this country. so i am delighted that, in fact, you have succeeded in rounding us up and getting us to do that. i note that we've had one member that has just appeared, and i did not know if any member seeks additional time. i want to thank this panel. anything you have in writing if you'll leave for us we'll put that in the record.
this panel is now -- gentleman does seek time. for one minute. >> 30 seconds. >> gentleman is recognized for a minute. [ inaudible ] >> one sentence i hope people pay careful attention to. congress should work to pass long-term reauthorization bill well before the expiration date set forth in hr-5021. >> and i really concur with the gentleman, also, and that's what we're here to try and do today. ahead of time. wish i was an on-time delivery but not everybody can be u.p.s. thank you very much. this panel is excused. we now call the gentleman from new jersey, mr. garrett, we're delighted that mr. garrett is here. evidently he's going to be recognized to speak on the amendment that may be from the gentleman from oklahoma, from
langford. mr. garrett we're delighted not only that you join us but anything you have in writing will be entered into the record. and if the gentleman will make sure that microphone is on, and i know you're trying to clean up, and the gentleman is recognized. >> so, i thank the chairman. i'll be brief. as i was sitting back there coming in late listen to some of the comments, as far as the problems that we see going forward and the underlying legislation, i don't know why the thought comes to mind the statement i think it was from dickinson from pennsylvania who said, mr. bishop knows the line, we are about to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper. in this case the storm is frying to fund transportation needs and the skiff as mr. hastings points out is a skiff made of debt, paper being paid for over a
longer period of time than we're actually going to use the dollars. the numbers i won't go into them. you probably had it from the prior panel that we're spending more money on these programs than is being generated through the federal fuels tax. to the tune of $350 billion since '08, and i don't come to you with any panacea on the federal angle of paying for this. but i do hearken the words of dr. burgess of saying that at some point in time we need to giving the states more flexibility. to the point that mr. cole raised with regard to, he sees firsthand experience apparently where states couldn't do things in a timely manner because of federal problems. so how do we do this? my understanding there might be another amendment, maybe already came here before, graves amendment or what have you to take a look at this issue. i would suggest that we have looked at this issue for some period of time. in fact we voted on this with a
number of pieces of legislation repeatedly and that is to allow the states to have flexibility now, if they so want it, not compel them to. for those states who do not want to have the flexibility, they can continue to have the federal government tell them exactly what to do. and so this is a joint effort by mr. langford and myself to provide that flexibility in two different mechanisms. and to give the u.s. department of transportation the options of limiting it to just the number of states that they deem as appropriate so it will not be a burden on the system. but that's in a short -- in a nutshell. i've raised this question every year that i served on the budget committee for the 12 years i've served on the budget committee when i've had the secretaries of transportation come before my committee, whether it's republican or democrat, i would often ask them, can you tell me what exactly is the needs on route 519 in sussex county? and they of course said where is 519 in sussex county.
i said, see, well that's a major road to us. but here in washington no one knows exactly what it is. yet washington is telling us how to grade it, how to put up guardrails, and how to do the rest. gosh, i think we have county engineers who are trained enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, they liked enough that they would be able to handle this job without the government doing it. and if a state so opted to opt out of the system, we should be able to do so. so that's all the legislation does, it's been around for awhile. and i would ask that this committee give it the most serious consideration that i think it deserves. >> gentleman yields back his time. thank you very much. i could not agree more with what you said, the challenge will come to how we apply this. but i want to thank the gentleman. i have believed for a long period of time that states, and the closer we get decision making to people that those people should be empowered to
make those decisions. and i have disagreed with mechanisms that we've done around here for quite some time, where we did on and off ramps as opposed to highways. but such is our lot. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have no questions. >> no questions. is there anyone that seeks time on the democrat side? >> is there anyone on the republican -- gentleman from utah is recognized. >> it's the major need of the road curb and gutter. is the major need of the road curb and gutter. >> curb and gutter? >> yeah. never mind i'll talk to you about this later. i appreciate you bringing this up. >> he's been with the financial services committee. >> right. >> i'm not going anywhere. i'm done. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back.
gentleman from oklahoma, chairman is recognized. >> just ask you quickly, self-defense for my friend mr. burgess the earmarks were requested by my state transportation department. they couldn't get them from the federal government, they had to write them in to law. they then matched appropriately and that's how we got there. so your solution would be an elegant way around this and we could just let people, as you point out, locally know what they're doing actually take the money that they're paying here, remove the fee from the middle man, and actually go ahead and do it. and you could let people that want to spend a large portion of their transportation dollars for museums, or more bike trails or -- they could do that. but, the rest of us that would prefer to spend them on roads and highways could probably do that, too. so, i don't know that we'll be able to do it here. but i certainly like your idea. >> gentleman yields back his time. gentleman from louisville,
texas, gentleman is not seeking time. gentleman from georgia. >> mr. chairman, i just wanted to say folks talk about this idea as being around for a long, long time. i don't think this idea this idea has been around for a long, long time. i don't think this idea has been around a long, long time. i take a look at what mr. garrett has brought as a pilot project. i think this is very, very different. i don't think if i looked -- you can tell me if i'm wrong, mr. garrett. i don't think you have interest, belief that the right system forward for america as it relates to funding transportation is to have some short term pilot projects for a few states. i think you know exactly what the long-term solution is for america and this is a huge departure from let's do and put it in statute and make it happen, to let's just try it a little bit and prove the concept. am i mistaken about that? >> no. when i came here 12 years ago, i was given firm assurances from the leadership at the time of the chairmen of the committee they would work with me on the
broader idea you suggested. 12 years later, leadership has changed and some people have changed but i'm getting the same assurances, so i thought i would take a pilot program, being that is the more reasonable common sense middle of the road team player sort of way to do it. we'll see what the results are. >> that is a big deal. i would ask my democratic colleagues, if you sense that is the same big deal that i do. mr. blumenauer knows what he'd want to do with that state flexibility and something very different than what i'd want to do with that state flexibility. we're worried about whether the federal highway system is maintained, whether or not our major arteries, do they move commerce around? but to have someone of mr. garrett's conservative credentials come forward and say, you know what, maybe folks aren't ready to go all the way. let's just try it, and let's just try it in they places that want to try it and oregon is going to try it differently than
oregon is going to try it. i view that as a huge olive bank and path forward we didn't have when mr. shuster brought his five-year proposal last time. can i ask my friends, do you think i'm making something out of nothing, or do you view that as the same pretty big deal in terms of a new and different way forward? >> i think you're a little bit more excited than i am, but let me say you guys are in charge. you can make whatever you want. i would talk to the people over there. >> well, i -- i'm just tremendously optimistic about what that means for us going forward, and it doesn't happen without 12 years of work in the background to have the credibility to lead on that issue. and i thank you for using your credibility to do that. >> thanks a lot. i appreciate it. >> i yield back. >> gentleman yields back his time. i want to thank the gentleman for coming up here. i know you had to sit and wait. i hope we were worth your time. i know you were worth our time.
if you have anything writing, if you'll leave that there for the stenographer, i appreciate it very much. and gentleman's now dismissed. thank you very much. i will now be -- chair will now be in receivable motion. this closes the hearing portion of hr-5021, the highway and transportation funding act of 2014. and the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized. >> mr. chairman, before i make the motion, i do need to make one more introduction, if i could. i was so focused on mr. mccu mccullough, i did not mention an intern i have with me today, emanuel who is here. he's interning in our office this summer. i'm delighted he's here also. i move the committee grant hr-5 021 of closed rule.
one-hour debate, equally divided among the chairs and ranking minority members of the committee on transportation infrastructure. committee on ways & means. all points of order against consideration. the rule provides the amendment and the nature of the substitute recommended by the committee on ways & means is modified by the amendment printed in the rules and committee report should be considered as adopted and the bill as amended should be considered as read. the rule was all points of order against provisions in the bill as amended. the rule provides one motion to recommit with or without instructions. >> refer to the gentleman from orlando, florida, for discussion. gentleman's recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this rule provides for the consideration of a stop gap highway bill under a closed amendment process. it's pretty straightforward.
evenly divides the debate time between the committee on information infrastructure and ways & means. the rule is self-executing for two amendments. one by mr. shuster making a hand full of technical changes, the other by mr. graves adding some findings. this is a very straightforward rule. i urge the support of this rule. >> i thank the gentleman for his explanation. the committee is now open for amendment or discussion. gentlewoman from new york is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i have an amendment to the rule. i rule the committee make an order and give the necessary waivers for an amendment by mr., representative blumenauer, number four, that would express that the house enact a long term transportation authorization through at least 2020. the amendment provides funding to the highway trust fund adequate to ensure financing of surface transportation projects through the period necessary to enact such a policy.
i think given the space, the information infrastructure in the united states, we should make that an order, let the house decide whether they want to add that or not. >> i appreciate the gentlewoman for her amendment. is there discussion? i would advise the committee, i believe what the gentlewoman has said, it carries not only merit, but a lot of common sense. however, it should be noted that the united states senate, which is headed up by her party, originally moved their bill to the end of the year, and the big push was get it to the end of the year and mr. shuster found a way to push it further out and to make it a longer enacting bill into next year. and i believe that what the gentlewoman's after, while to 2020 is an attribute that we did not make, but that until the middle of the year be until the end of the year -- the end of
this year. i am in favor of voting against the amendment from the gentlewoman. further discussion? seen none. the vote will be on the amendment by the gentlewoman from new york. those in favor, aye. no? >> roll call, please. >> nos have it. the roll call vote. >> miss foxx? miss foxx, no. mr. bishop, no. mr. cole, mr. cole, no. mr. woodall, no. mr. webster, no. mr. burgess, no. miss slaughter. >> aye. >> miss slaughter, aye. mr. mcgovern? aye. mr. hastings, aye. mr. polis, aye. mr. chairman, no. report the total. >> four ayes, seven nays . >> amendment is not agreed too. gentleman from florida.
>> yes, thank you, mr. chairman. vy an amendment to the rule. i rule the committee grant hr-5021 an older rule so all members have opportunity to offer amendments to the bill on the floor. >> you've now heard the amendment by the gentleman. gentleman's recognized. >> limited discussion. not only does the underlying field violate cut goal and section 302-f of the congressional budget act, but now the majority has chair pier picked certain amendments they wanted to and closed all process for the rest of the amendments. i made the appeal that all of the amendments of those who came here should be made an order and i certainly am disappointed that mr. blumenauer's amendments are not needed. the committee is going to accept amendments, a clean extension, why not open the process to all
members? members should be allowed to improve this bill on the house floor out in the open instead of having these decisions be made by just a few people, and that's what happened here behind closed door. >> you've now heard the discussion from the gentleman from florida. further discussion on the amendment? seen none. the vote will now be on the hastings amendment. those in favor, signify by saying aye. opposed, no. nos have it. gentleman asked the roll call vote. >> miss foxx? >> no. >> miss foxx, no. mr. bishop, no. mr. cole, no. mr. woodall, no. mr. nugent, mr. webster. mr. webster, no. mr. burgess. mr. burgess, no. miss slaughter. >> aye. >> miss slaughter, aye. mr. mcgovern, aye. mr. hastings. >> yes. >> mr. hastings, aye.
mr. chairman. >> no. >> mr. chairman, no. >> reports the total. >> four ayes, seven nos. >> amendment not agreed to. further amendment or discussion? seen none. vote will be on the motion from the gentlewoman from north carolina, vase chairman of the committee. those in favor, signify by saying aye. those opposed no. the ayes have it. the ayes have it. the gentleman from orlando, florida, mr. webster, will be handling this for republicans. mr. polis will be handling this for democrats. the next rules committee meeting is scheduled for 3:00 on tomorrow, on the charitable extenders package. i want to thank the important visitors that we had today. up to and inlutiewdinluting our in congress. thank you very much. this is a distinct pleasure, not only to know mr. foxx brings
teachers who she speaks about on a regular basis to the capitol, but you joined us in the rules committee. certainly emanuel, if that is his name. one of his interns. and have ssavannah and juliana, to thank you for taking time to be us with today. we have now completed our work for the day, and this ends our hearing.
so the house rules committee has approved a rule for debate of the highway and transportation funding bill. a measure expected to come to the house floor later this week. the white house released a statement today supporting the bill, but calling on congress to pass a long-term highway trust fund authorization referring to the current legislation as a short-term fix. the highway trust fund is due to run out of money at the end of next month. now we hear more about highway and transportation funding from today's "washington journal."
every week at this time on the "washington journal" we take a closer look at how your taxpayer dollars are spent. joining us now to talk about the highway trust fund is aubrey layne, board member of the american association of state, highway and transportation officials as well as the current virginia secretary of transportation. thank you for being with us this morning. >> good morning. glad to be here. >> what have you heard, first of all, from lawmakers as to whether or not there will be some resolution over the highway trust fund? >> we did get a little bit of good news last week that looks like both the senate and the house have reached some agreement that there will be a short-term fix, maybe taking us into next spring, which is welcome news. about $11 billion. of course, at the states level, it's hard to run a program just on short-term fixes. we hope that it would reach a long-term solution, but at least there seems to be some action going forward. >> for viewers who may not know, explain to me why is the highway trust fund so important and finding it so vital from your
perspective? >> i speak from the common wealth of virginia, we have a $2 .5 billion construction fund each year and over 50% of those dollars come from the federal highway trust fund. so it the extent that those funds were not available, there are some 350 projects in the commonwealth of virginia that would be impacted including many bridges. about 150 bridges. we all read in the national newspapers, the deficient bridges we have this this country. those would be impacted. our transit. 44 transit programs. the capacity. new train cars related to those programs would all be impacted. so it's a significant issue, would have an impact on the traveling public's life if it's not funded. >> you mention eed the difficul in governing and figuring out how to plan when you have short. term budgeting that's going on. i'm curious, what planning in virginia has been done to prepar for this going one way? >> obviously we've been watching this very carefully. fortunately, virginia last year
passed legislation that inreesed transportation revenues at the sate level, so we do have the ability to go 60, 90 days without impacting our overall funding program. that's assuming that we would, in fact, get reimbursements finally from the federal highway trust fund. so what we're doing is monitoring it. we've put in contingency plans. i know that a lot of things don't go on in the capitol during the august timeframe. it's primetime for construction projects across the commonwealth in our country. we don't want to slow those down because if we do, it will cost us more. we're looking at the next 60 days if no action is taken, we'll have to start curtails our program. >> headline from "time" magazine this morning, obama to step up. stepping up its efforts to press congress to provide additional funding for infrastructure projects. obama will reiterate his call to
pay for funding the reform with a business tax reform this week, a white house official said, a proposal that floundered in congress this election year. also announce new executive actions for infrastructure investment and help states and municipalities prepare for the impact of climate change on the public work. is that good news for you guys, then? >> it is good news. at least that is a long-term solution. if it does get enacted by congress. and that's important. whatever gets done, there needs to be three major components. one is it needs to be sustainable. again, having the short-term fixes like we've had six 2008 is difficult for a long-range program. number two, it needs to be multimodal. not just highways but it's tr s trans transit, it's freight. that needs to be considered. finally, it needs to be -- growth needs to be talked about. the current tax that supports the trust fund has not been raised in over 25 years. it's lost over 50% of its
purchasing power. you combine that with higher mileage than the states are having a difficult time keeping up with the reimbursement being reduced from the federal highway. so sounds like what the president is looking to is address those issues. again, i know that congress has put a stop gap in. we're grateful for it, but we need a long-term solution with those parameters. >> our guest is aubrey layne, current virginia secretary of transportation. to join our conversation about the highway trust fund this morning, democrats, 202-585-3880. republicans, 202-585-3881. independents, 202-585-3882. first caller is in daley city, california. ken is on the democrats line. >> caller: yeah, hi, how are you doing? my understanding is that this fund is short, if, in other words, it would cost us 15 cents a gallon more for gasoline to bring it up to par.
and, you know, that's a small price to pay considering, especially where i live. the highways are so essential for getting people to be able to move around and when you have, like, if one bridge goes out or something, we're in great, great big trouble here. so, and i'm sure it's like that across the country where the arterial systems are getting so run down that it's actually causing -- you're pays more money than the 15 cents a gallon you'd be paying to pay for alignments and tire damage and everything else that's going on. and so i think people need to know that, you know, not only does this create jobs, it increases productivity, and i think, you know, i don't see where the hang-up is on this at all. >> well, ken, i've heard different estimates, whether it's 15 cents, i think that may
just get us up to what we need to fund our current needs, but i do agree with you that the transportation impacts all our lives. it's not only a quality of life issue, but during this past winter, the commonwealth of virginia experienced many weather-related storms. fortunately, our rail was working when the highways were blocked. so it also helped us in terms of dealing with those major disasters. i know the commonwealth of virginia also has major defense installations, and they have told us that not just a quality of life for their personnel, but also their readiness function is impacted by the congestion mitigation and some of the condition of our highways. so i do see it as a core function of government. i believe the federal government has a role in this, from our earliest laws in this country have been to support transportation because it underpins our economy and our
way of life and, therefore, maybe many of our freedoms. and so i do see it as a core function and hopefully our legislators will see it that way, too. >> next up is al in watertown, tennessee. independents line. >> caller: yeah, appreciate you taking my call. there's a number here, called the trust fund. i'm looking at this in the same way as the social security trust fund and the trust fund that was supposed to upgrade the aviation system in this country. that they've taken money from the taxpayer and they called it a trust fund for a certain purpose, then they spend at least partial of the money on things that aren't in the charter for that fund. social security being the biggest one. but i'd like this gentleman to respond to the arguments that are being made to spend trust fund money that's supposed to two to highways for other things than that money. and where did the $800 billion
go for the shovel-ready jobs that were supposed to fix highways that never got done? >> well, a couple things there. i agree that the trust fund should be used for transportation. in fact, the commonwealth of virginia last year passed a new legislation along with our revenue generation that restricted what those moneys could be used for. instead of a lock box. because in addition to just taking the moneys out of the fund, sometimes other things aren't funded because they say, well, you got moneys for transportation now. so i agree 100% that the money should be used totally for what they were collected for. now, having said that, i also realize that money, alone, is not the answer. we've got to be good fiscal stewards. again, the commonwealth of virginia, this last year, governor mcculluf asked me to
work with the senate and passed a law that prioritizing promisis and gives a taxpayer the view of what their return will be, how it's going to impact their lives, what they're getting for. i'm 100% behind you these moneys should be used for the specific purpose which they were collected. you were right. i served on the commonwealth transportation board over the last few years when we had these projects that were deemed shovel ready, and i think some of the moneys were not used wisely, because we haven't had reimbursements from the trust fund since 2008, in a sustainable manner. so therefore a lot of projects weren't developed. so a lot of that money went to paving roads that maybe didn't need to be paved. that's why i say it needs to be sustainable so we can plan for it. i can't agree more. we need to be good fiscal stewards in addition to making sure we're putting the money on the right projects. >> i want to talk about that sustainability a little bit.
you said repeatedly you need something more than a short-term pass that's floating around in chambers of congress right now. i'm curious, politically speaking, what are the odds of getting a longer deal? some prefer a six-year deal for the trust fund. >> you're right. since 2008 when the trust fund started having these difficulties, there have been general fund appropriations put across some $50 billion i think since then across there. again, that's helpful. but many of these projects, in the commonwealth of virginia and across our nation, are multibillion dollars. this the environment work, alone, takes years to plan, to go through. we like to invest with our public -- excuse me, our private investors. they need to make sure there are dollars on these projects in that. so without a sustainable program that we know moneys will be coming in each month that we can count on, it's hard to look more than a few months out into the future. and that's no way to run any capital program, particularly an
infrastructure program with these long lead times. >> right. i get that. again, though, is it actually likely to get something like a six-year deal? do you think that's actually going to happen? >> i'm an optimist. i would hope that would happen. that's not been congress' history since 2008, and right now there seems to be some consensus to take us into may of next year or spring of next year. but until we come to grips with that these are a -- is a long-term problem that require investment -- a recent study just came out that showed that america is now ranked 20th in infrastructure -- or 14th, overall in infrastructure, 20th in roads across nations across the globe. that's no way for us to be a leader in our economy, or in the world. so we need -- i would ask congress, urge them to come to the grips with the fact that this is a core function of government, and it underpins our economy and our competitiveness.
let's hope we get a long-term fix. >> speaking of competitiveness, we were looking at the report card from the american society of civil engineers and they ranked america's infrastructure a d-plus. you talk about america ranking 20th. why is the united states falling behind? and if it continues to do so, what's the cost? >> well, it has fallen behind. the last -- it was the '50s and 6 6 '60s. our highway, interstates across here. it has to do with the political environment we're in. we understand there are issues at the federal level as we deal with the economic crisis. as we deal with our debt levels. but infrastructure spending is investment. it's lumped in, unfortunately, with the 15% or so of our total spending. that's discretionary. many of the issues we face are
not just discretionary spending, so when you're looking for off sets in the small piece, there's so much to get to. i think it gets back to not necessarily being just a financial, it's a political problem. and we need to find the political will to invest in our future. i believe, as many of our politicians and leaders do, that america's best days are ahead of us. but only if we invest in it. infrastructure spending's got to be a big part of that. we need to find the political will to do so. >> let's go to conway, missouri, where delano is on the line for democrats. >> caller: thank you very much for c-span. i wanted to make a comment to your listeners. i got on google and according to the transportation secretary, 40% of our fuel tax -- federal fuel tax money goes to washington, d.c. it doesn't go in for roads and bridges. goes to washington, d.c., for earmarks. that's my comment. and i hope people are listening.
thank you very much. >> there are parts of the federal highway trust fund moneys that are called flex moneys that can be used other from highways. but they have to be competitively dead and they are still on transportation projects. as i said in the opening here, i believe the transportation program needs to be multimodal. transit is becoming a bigger part of our transportation network. there are alternative methods. bicycles, pedestrian walkways. they're all becoming pe ining pr network. so that needs to be recognized. what we should use our transportation dollars is for a purpose of getting people to and from their jobs, making them more mobile. not particularly picking a project to say this is what is needed. transportation should be the end result. mat 21, the previous
transportation law, started as going down the path of measuring the impactness a nesand effecti those laws. we've done the same in virginia on individual projects. yes, some of the moneys are used for other things other than highways. i don't necessarily think they're specifically earmarks but programs allowed to be used and competitively looked at across the country. >> so from my understanding, and please correct me if i'm wrong, the trust fund is funded mostly by diesel and gasoline tax. is that something you or your organization would support an increase in? >> well, i think that there are multiple ways. you're correct. right now it is through the federal fuel tax which is 18.4 cents. hasn't been changed in 25 years. i can tell you what we did in the commonwealth of virginia. in order to make that tax float with the economic activity, we converted from a cents per gallon to a percentage per gallon sales tax at the wholesale level. so that is the price of
gasoline, or economic activity changes, therefore more taxes are correct ecollected to keep inflation. that's one thing that can be done. i started this conversation by saying that it's a core function of government. we recognize that in virginia, so therefore general funds sales taxes were also used to supplement. our private sector can be a part. we use public/private partnerships. about 15% of our procurement in the commonwealth of virginia is related to those type of partnerships. so i think instead of looking at as a one silver bullet, a programmatic approach needs to be taken a look at. i don't think there's one single thing. we realize that in the commonwealth of virginia. i think we need to realize that as a nation. >> morganton, north carolina. mike is on the democrats line. >> caller: yes. good morning. i just wanted to make the comment that presently right now we're paying about $1.50 to $2
more on the gallon fuel than what it should be if there was actually a regulatory board which there isn't. the taxes are getting ready to be increased for the public on their expense of gas, but yet we've yet to put any royalties on the petroleum companies drilling on public lands and international waters. it's just another case of more, more, more, more. you know, you'll never have enough. you'll never take enough from the public. and the oil companies will never pay their right responsibility to a tax system. it's really a pretty tragic situation that our whole government is run by the oil and gas industry, and people are going down the drain. >> well, your comment in regarding the price of gasoline,
we've found the opposite of that being true in the commonwealth of virginia. when our law was passed a year ago, it changed from a cents per gallon to a wholesale tax per gallon. it was 60 cents more per gallon than it is today. actually it has dropped. if you look over the last couple of decades, if you were to inflation adjust the price of gasoline, it's not kept up with inflation. now, i'm not saying whether it should be more or less. i'm just looking at the history of what's happened, what has been our experience in the commonwealth since we've put in this new legislation. i do believe that looking at alternative sources, whatever this country should to in terms of becoming energy independent, is something that needs to be looked at, but that a policy that needs to be studied and how it impacts the environment and what have you. i would just ask us to look at how we're collecting this and make sure it keeps growth with what's going on with our economic activity and our needs. >> republicans line.
tom in niota, illinois. >> caller: yes, hello. i was calling, i see this, i'm on the highway and bridge committee for the county, hancock county, and out there we keep getting less money. we keep getting more mandates put on us by the state. one of the things that just happened the last couple years, we have for every bridge we replace, we have to pay a $10,000 epa fee so they can come out, look, and they don't do anything. don't do anything at all. we just pay the $10,000 fee. the other thing is, we have to pay prevailing wage all the time which makes a bidding thing always in the union realm which is always higher. and you can't get away from that. that's the rules. you have so many rules that cost us so much money because it's always we'll just raise the taxes more, get more revenue to take care of these things. but you're doing so much to make jobs that -- and a lot of these
jobs aren't needed. and that's my comment. thank you. >> yeah. i understand exactly what you're speaking of. i mentioned earlier, the environmental process in a major project may take several years. looking at ways how we can streamline that process while continuing to protect the environment, i think that is key for all of us to keep in mind. but there are should be ways that we could cut through that to make sure that the dollars that we are collecting are really for these projects that were good fiduciaries. that's one of the things, again, in the common swwealth, how do do that? working with environmental, federal agencies. to streamline through. the current administration, secretary fox has put out ideas on how to do that. we are looking at that from the commonwealth of virginia's perspective and want to make sure that we're in those
prototype programs. because if we can reduce the amount of time from when these projects are planned to when they're actually built, it saves us money which is belt tter used better for our taxpayers. >> chicago, illinois. charlotte is on the democrats line. >> caller: hi, fwoorgood mornin. thanks for taking my call. i love c-span. i'm calling because first of all i'm okay paying more money for gas if it is, again, used for this purpose. the way gas prices fluctuate, yeah, we an can go -- right now chicago, or the suburbs of chicago we're paying $3. 50 depending where you're buying your gas which is great compared to what it has been lately, but tomorrow it could be $3.80. two, three weeks from now it could be $3.95. it fluctuates so much that it almost to me in a sense doesn't even matter. if i thought that some of that
price was going to help highways, i would be happy. i have a newer car and driving down roads, i feel right now the roads are not in good condition because of last winter we had. and it just -- it's really a concern. and cars are very, very expensive. the little bit you're paying more in gas, if it is supporting the transportation across the country, i think it's really a good thing. and i also feel that we probably do need more regulators. so, again, the cry for smaller government is like -- i think it's very shortsighted. when we say, oh, we want a smaller government, we want less regulation. however, in the case like this, if we have more regulators, then we could be more confident that the money that we're spending is being used appropriately. so i just feel that it would benefit in so many areas our
country, and in particular we could feel as we drive across the country, as our trucks are driving across the country, that we have a -- it's safer for all of our citizens. thank you. >> in the commonwealth of virginia, the governor has made clear we will be good stewards of the taxpayers' money. we hear a lot of exactly what you're saying that people are willing to pay for investment as long as they can make sure that it is being used on what the moneys are collected for. so very, very much agree with that statement. and we've taken not only actions but also passed laws to make sure that that becomes a reality. in terms of the condition of the roads, you're right. it's not a static thing. this year we had a very, very tough winter in virginia. that cost us additional moneys not only in moving the snow but now in repairing the roadways to keep them open for, again, our commerce. so, again, this is not something
that you spend on once and don't have to keep up. so in terms of current construction, maintaining our current system is important. we agree because it's integral to our lives as a traveling public. >> question from twitter. mark stone writes, we know the amount of federal gas tax, which we discussed earlier, but what is the average state gas tax? total is closing in on $1 per gallon. >> well, that wasn't the case in the commonwealth of virginia. we were at 17 1/2 cents per gallon, close to the federal gas tax up until last year. it's now converted to 3.5% on the wholesale and roughly the equivalent of 17 1/2 cents. it's 6% on diesel. so virginia, i would say this, though, at that time, ranked in the bottom 10% of collections.
and we had the third largest road network. so i do know other states are higher. in terms of my experience in the commonwealth, we were in a total of about 40 cents per gallon. less than 40 cents. not the dollar. i'm sure that changes around the country. in that regard. but hopefully states are looking at what their needs are and basing their tax on what that is. because as important as it is to us to do the information, we shouldn't be taking more taxes that we're not using wisely. so i think it's important that we get the right amount done. >> louisiana, henry on the republicans line. >> caller: how you doing? good morning, c-span. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> caller: i like to say, louisiana, we have the third largest refinery in the world, and i think texas and louisiana
should -- the citizens should have some of the cheapest gas along with infrastructure. what i find is that when you say politically, it is all politically because the governor here, he refuses everything with the federal government assisting him with. so it's a political thing where i see where from highways, to even this affordable health care which we can't even get here. it's something as though you have a do-nothing congress. either shut the government down, and i'm saying for us to try to get something done for each taxpayer in this country, you're going to have a cloud, that dark cloud that shut the country down for us not to get anything done. so once we can kind of get together with the senate and the
congress and have them pass legislation to get things done, we're not going to ever get anything done. but right now i see that if we can just as a whole get together and pass some kind of laws to help this country, we are finding that things will get done, and you see, as far as for the infrastructure, like i said, the state of louisiana, we refine, and texas refine, and we should have the cheapest taxes on gas. but we don't get together. it's like, you know, everything in southern states really tried to do, to refuse the help that is coming here. it's like you said, it's all political. you know? and i hate to say it, and i'm going to say it on this air, if
we didn't have a black president, we wouldn't have all of these problems. >> your response? >> well, i do agree that are requires all levels of government working together. both the federal, state, and local levels are all involved in transportation infrastructure funding. and so obviously if we worked together, the more efficient we're going to be. and the more fiduciary responsibility will be to our citizens. it's estimated we have over $1 trillion in this country of transportation infrastructure that needs to be addressed and that grows every year. the longer we put this off. it is both at the federal, state, and local level that we're going to have to work on those as we coordinate across not only commonwealths or our states but across our country, because our citizens are very mobile and move across all those boundaries freely. and that's one of the things i think is great about our
democracy, and as i started the conversation saying that i believe that transportation underpins some of our very basic freedoms and our way of life. >> our guest is aubrey layne of the american association of state highway and transportation officials. also the virginia secretary of transportation. next caller is john in westchester, pennsylvania. republicans line. >> caller: yeah, i hear everybody in washington recognizing that we have to do something with the infrastructure. and it will improve the employment situation and get the country back on track. but i don't hear anybody in washington saying it's time to reinstate the 34% corporate tax. which has cost us about $7
trillion in debt and adds to all of our problems where there's not money for the va, there's not money to defend ourself. and it's long overdo with that consistent stop in 2006 or 2008 that's caused a disaster and it's time for people in washington to reinstate that 34% corporate tax and use it for rebuilding the infrastructure around the country. >> well, i do -- we haven't talked about that yet, but i do believe that infrastructure funding does support jobs across our nation. in the state of virginia, over $43,000 -- 43,000 jobs are supported. and over 600,000 across the
nation. so it is important to our economy in that regard. but in terms, again, i believe it's going to take all of us working together in both the state, federal, and the local government. i believe the private sector can play a big part in this. as we work together and team together, which will increase other jobs across our nation and across other disciplines. >> let's go to an e-mailed question now. john writes, i understand that there is a want to increase gas tax. how do electric car people, quote, pay their fair share, as they are increasingly using the roads? >> well, as i said, there are various ways that can be attacked, or to be looked at. traditionally, gas taxes have been considered user fees and, therefore, you fill up with gas, you're using the highways and you pay for it. electric and hybrid vehicles, that's part of the problem, not
collecting as much. a problem in terms of tax collection. there have been other things looked at. vehicle miles traveled. where you actually pay for the miles that you've driven. you can do that through, do a flat fee, do that through like an odometer type of thing. you can certainly do that through a gps. of course, there are privacy issues with that. understand those. that's why i started by saying i don't think there's one silver bullet. there's not one answer. but what should be looked at as a program, and i think it should be fitted to what you're trying to accomplish. >> next caller is in denver, colorado. jan is on the line for independents. >> caller: good morning. >> good morning. >> caller: i know that the roads are a lot of what the transportation guest is talking about, but i think if anything
should bring the people together to realize how bad the infrastructure is is the fact that the ceiling fell down around the congressmen's head last week. our national treasures that belong to the people are being neglected. they're falling down around us. and everyone knows that these things are happening. no one wants to vote the money to fix congress' building because they're afraid that it will look like they're more concerned about themselves than they are about the people. but they're not voting on anything. our roads are getting worse. because the weather is changing and people are having flood and fire problems, here in colorado, the roads, a lot of them can't
stand the washout that's happening as the flooding occurs, and once the fires burn all -- once the trees are gone, the mud slides, the floods. we're having continual problems with our highways, and our small towns are actually being isolated at times where people can't even get to them. it's really concerning, and i think people should pay a lot more attention to that. thank you. i'll listen to your answer. >> well, of course we're speak about transportation infrastructure, but there's no doubt we have other infrastructure needs across this nation. we are dealing with that, again, in the commonwealth of virginia. through our public/private partnership act. we've expanded it outside of just transportation. looking at how we can do it across other disciplines. i know senator warner has recently introduced legislation called the bridge act which
allows for different financing tools that will be at the option of not only governments but private partners looking at how we finance transportation, other infrastructure. so i could not agree more that infrastructure spending needs to be viewed as an investment. not just another cost. but investing in america's future. >> homedale, idaho. michael is on the line for independents. >> caller: thank you. mr. layne, i have two questions. the first one would be regarding the davis/bacon act. i'm 63 and there was a dam that broke in idaho and had several friends in the construction industry. their wages working on that dam took what was normally in idaho at the time about a $6 an hour minimum, and they were getting $18 an hour to work on that dam. obviously it's very good for
them, but how tdo they figure it's good for the whole nation when they pay three times the wages? i don't understand it. there's been four acts passed since 1931, the davis/bacon, the fair labor act, and everything is raising, i think. you've got to be good stewards. spend the money wisely. that's my first question. the second question would be, in the '60s, diesel fuel was cheap. the only ones that used it were farmers and the big semis. but then as automobiles, the smaller vehicles started using it, they started raising the price of diesel to where it's now more than gasoline, but yet it takes less refinement it expends to make these. i'd like to know why the price of diesel raised the price of it more than just gasoline?
>> take your first question, in terms of wages, virginia, commonwealth of virginia is a right-to-work state. although many of our federal contracts do have the guidelines of davis/bacon in there. we have done studies and looked at the silver line here in northern virginia. where those contracts have not given rise, or those acts have not given rise to specific contracts costing more. many of those are done on a competitively bid basis in that regard, so i think the jury is out as to whether or not the benefits of having these acts outweigh the perceived notion that maybe it's costing more. we have not seen that experience significantly in the commonwealth. in terms of diesel fuel, that, very good point. there is probably less being
refined and i think that goes into some of the reasons for the price of it. virginia, we are looking at the tax on diesel fuel. it is more than the gasoline tax. it was done that way to begin with because it sort of was revenue neutral. as we looked at the cents per gallon. that's something we'll take a look at as we continue. i'm sure our legislature will take look at making sure we're incentivizing people for using fuels that are less harmful to our environment. just this year governor mccull luf reduced the fee associated with the hybrid tax for using the roads because we don't want to be seen as disincentivizing those people who were trying to protect our environment. >> we have a virginia caller for you. tim is in alexandria and on the republican line. >> caller: thank you for c-span.
mr. secretary, i actually have two questions. the first is, how often do you practice your plan for evacuation as a northern virginian? i remember, too, vividly when a hurricane wases approaching houston, texas, several years ago, they reversed all direction on their interstates and roadways, and it was a disaster. when the next big storm or strike comes toward metropolitan washington area, how are you going to move all the people that are moving southbound or west or east or away from washington? and then the other question, quickly, is just to spring board on the other gentleman about best value for your spending dollar. it's pretty well known that concrete as a building structure is more sustainable and more long lasting than blacktop asphalt. do you factor that into your
roadwork in the commonwealth? thanks very much. >> sure, tim. thank you for the question. one of the first things that i became acquainted with becoming secretary of transportation was the process that we have to deal with natural and other disasters. as i mentioned, we had five snowstorms and i quickly got involved with as how we keep the roads clear and keep people safe during that time. also, the governor very early in his administration convened a roundtable or a tabletop setting where we looked at evacuation planning. this happened to be from hampton roads, but it could have been from northern virginia also. and we became very concerned as a cabinet. the governor specifically concerned that what was planned may not actually work. so to answer your question, i don't think any of the evacuation has ever been practiced in full.
we certainly look at it each year. the governor has convened a committee which i serve on with secretary brian moran of private safety. we're looking at how we can do that. one of the big areas being considered is lane reversal. our sisters, our state to the south of us, north carolina used to have that plan. they have now gone away from lane reversal. we are taking a look at it now in the commonwealth. but it's a very, very good point. nothing comes more important to us than the safety of our citizens and being able to evacuate them. northern virginia's case, at least we do have rail. that is, we have a couple different options that we can do. but it's a good point, tim, and we're working on that. in terms of the asphalt versus concrete, depending on which contractors convention i'm at, i'll have to be careful how i answer. but we actually look at the life cycle. what is the cost of replacing
the infrastructure, what it's going to cost us to maintain over its life. quite frankly, we found in many cases they're not the same. so, therefore, we look at what concrete we look at, we look at what asphalt we look at the life cycle and try to make a very good decision, monetary decision based on those factors. >> all right. unfirefig unfortunately we've got to leave it there. aubrey layne board member for the american association of state, hieway and transportation officials, as well as the virginia secretary of transportation. thank wow for being with us this morning. >> thank you for having me here today. another house hearsiing on veterans issues at 7:30 p.m. eastern. the house veterans affairs committee looks at the veterans benefits administration process for evaluating disability and benefit claims. it's another in a series of hearings investing veterans health care. va whistleblowers and benefits administration officials are set to testify. live coverage on our companion network, c-span2, at 7:30 p.m.
eastern. up next, it's a hearing on child trafficking. the senate health and labor subcommittee on children and families heard from experts about what government resources and funding are needed by the states. this is an hour and a half. good morning, everyone. the senate subcommittee on children and families will now come to order. today's hearing is titled fa falling through the cracks: the challenges of prevention and identification in child trafficking and private re-homing. i want to thank all of our witne witness witnesses whom are here to
testify. i look forward to wrr testimony. i know many of you traveled many miles to get here, so i do appreciate your attendance. i also want to thank our ranking member, senator enzi, for joining me today to address this very important issues that we're going to be discussing in the hearing today. we are here to discuss the significant challenges that we face in the effort to prevent child trafficking and private re-homing. and to identify and support the children who have been victims of these types of abuse. too many child victims today are going unidentified, misidentified, or underreported. and as we will see, one of the reasons for this is the lack of education and training for our educators who many times are on the front line and see these children. our health care providers who see these children as they present for a number of reasons, and then our social workers. however, with appropriate guidance, these dedicated professionals can play a
critical role both by helping to prevent these practices and by offering potentially life-saving assistance to those children who need it the most. there are thousands of children. some accounts show up to 300,000 that are being trafficked here in the united states. these young victims are often hidden in plain sight. and in many cases, they're actually still attending school. which makes it particularly important that our educators can recognize the signs of a trafficking victim and then respond accordingly. this can be hard to fathom. it was really hard for me personally, but the average age of a child trafficking victim in the united states is between 11 years old to 14 years old. these are very young, vulnerable children. girls at this age are particularly vulnerable. they may face trouble at home and then become susceptible to pressure from their peers or by
manipulation by a trafficker. this happened to a young girl from a town in coastal north carolina. she was attending school during the day, but in the evenings, a man whom she believed was her boyfriend was actually selling her to other men for sex often multiple times each night. it was not until she was actually questioned at school one day that authorities found lingerie in her book bag and her story then came to light. that is why it is so critical that our educators understand this horrific problem and recognize the signs in youth that they work with every day. they can help make our students aware of the dangers and then educate them so they are not so vulnerable. similarly, our health care providers need to have appropriate guidelines and screening practices to recognize trafficking victims in their care.
as we're going to hear today, the health care response needs to be further developed to traes the shortage of education and training for our providers. but even if professionals are aware of the even if professio aware of the problems, they face additional problems when working with trafficked patients. these victims are often hesitant to disclose their experiences for fear of repercussions by the individuals who are their traffickers. this also happened to a 14-year-old girl that has been reported to me. her trafficker had branded this young girl with a tattoo as if she was his possession and then advertised her services on back page. when authorities found her hiding behind a dumpster, she had been severely raped and traumatized. but when she was finally braught in to receive care, she was so afraid of her trafficker that she recanted her story and then was referred to law enforcement for prosecution instead of receiving the health care
services that she so desperately needed. unfortunately, these instances are not unique. child trafficking is prevalent in all of our communities. and it will take all of our community stake holders to come together to address this problem. but we need leadership from the federal government to help raise this awareness about the issue and to lead the way in developing the practices and procedures that will increase the prevention efforts of our trafficked youth. last december, i introduced bipartisan legislation to address this growing problem of child trafficking with senator rubio. that bill is called the strengthening the child welfare response to human trafficking act. this legislation would fill some of the gaps in the current system by providing some professionals with tools to
educate and counsel child victims of sex and labor trafficking. it would also amend the child treatmented act to ensure child welfare agencies properly insure children and allow law enforcement to be able to better track them. there are many ways in which this problem needs to be addressed. there are many ways to respond to child traffic. and then the second topic of this hearing is the issue of private reho-homing of adopted children -- that was a new word for me in the last year or two. i'm pleased to hold this hearing as it is the first hearing in the senate. the practice of re-homing came last september when a reporter for reuters, she published her finds with an investigation during which she examined more
than 5,000 messages posted over five years on a yahoo group site that was titled adopting from disruption. through her research, she identified 261 children who were, quote, advertised online and, in many cases, re-homed into care of adults who too often had a history of neglect, abuse or sexually exploiting other children. the reuters series profiled several adoptive parents with a simple transfer of a power of attorney document, thus circumventing the protections of our child welfare system and jeopardizing those children's safety. not surprisingly, many of the children involved in this unregulated transactions suffered from behavioral, emotional and health issues. these arehearted breaking stories. and they involve children that too often had come into contact
with our school employees or health care providers who, despite their best efforts, were unable to offer these children the hept that they needed because these individuals had not been trained to recognize these warning signs. and i'm hopeful that our discussion today is going to sign a light on this growing problem so that we can work together to ensure that professionals in education and health care, who are in contact with these children are prepared to offer them the help that they need. with adequate training, these dedicated individuals can help begin to identify the signs and symptoms in children and then to help report them as potential victims. and to make sure that at-risk children do not slip through these cracks and become victims in the future. to help us understand the challenges of prevention and identification of the victims of child trafficking and private re-homing, we're going to hear from a group of our
distinguished panelists this morning. they're going to share with us their stories and the work that they've done on these issues to help both prevent the proliferation of these types of abuse and then, also, obviously, to help these types of children and young people who have been the victims. to our panelists, i ask you to keep your oral statements, your opening statements, to five minutes. and i also thank you for your excellent written statements, which have been submitted to the record. senator endsie, i'd love to hear your opening comments. >> thank you, madame chairman. and thank you for holding this important hearing to discuss the issues surrounding prevention of child traffics and re-homing in our country. most of us say how can this possibly happen in america? we often talk of wanting something better for future generations for our children and our grandchildren. i believe these sentiments hold true particularly for those of
this future generation whose outcomes are all in danger. there's no greater bipartisan issue than the mutual desire to keep children safe and healthy in protective and loving homes. to that, several committees will take up issues of concern in if child trafficking and re-homing spheres. i'm here to tackle the issue under the purview of this subcommittee in what is in place in our schools to identify children who may be victims of trafficking and start talking about how we can increase the number of children who are preventively identified. one of our guests today is from san diego. i'm eager to hear how schools and states can collaborate to better address children who are
in danger of trafficking victims. today, the focus will largely be on education and taking a look at this issue, its prevalence and engaging in a dialogue about what the federal role is in this phase. at the end of the day, our goal is to have better outcomes for our nation's children and youth. that's my goeal and i know it'sa goal of many of my colleagues. i'm hoping that we can use this opportunity to gather and share information, learn from states while encouraging state collaboration and work together only substantive issues. thank you, madame chairman. >> thank you, senator. i am so appreciative of the work that we have done together on these issues. and i thank you for your help and support. now, we'd like to hear from our witnesses, our first witness is ms. ju young chang, associate
commissioner of the children's bureau within the department of health and human services. and then our next witness is ms. abigail witness, she's from my home state. and is currently director for the center of adolescent help and the law at chapel hill. recently, ms. english was a member of the national research council committee which issued the report titled confronting commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the u.s. following is ms. latrell, an assistant principal at the grossmont union high school in san diego, california. after recognizing that children in her school district were being subjected to child sex trafficking, ms. latrell and her colleagues partnered with law enforcement to develop training
for teachers so that professionals in the classrooms are able to recognize the warning signs. and then finally, we have ms. megan tui. ms. trkszui is an investigative reporter for reuters in new york. so we're going to begin with ms. chang for your testimony. once again, please, limit your opening remarks to five minutes. once each of you have concluded, then we'll begin the question and answer period. >> thank you. thank you again for inviting me to testify today. my name is ju young chang and i'm the associate commissioner to oversee federal foster care and adoption assistance programs as well as a range of prevention and post permanency initiatives. i'm pleased to share with you
the department of health and human sfrss response to very serious instances confronting the field of child welfare. the practice of parents re-homing their adopted children and human trafficking. i'll start with re-homing. many of the students highlighted in the investigative series described parent who is are unable to meet the complex, emotional and behavioral needs that emerge from their children post-adoption. these parents turn to online forums to advertise and facilitate the placement of their children without the benefit of safety and criminal background checks or a home study to determine the appropriateness of the placement. the article advertised that these children are often placed in unsafe environments. parents have a legal responsibility to protect and care fr their children.